If you have talked to your digital marketing agency recently, read the latest from Google, or perused your favorite marketing blog, you have likely come across arguments in favor of better customer experience. If you have watched a webinar about digital transformation or trends in online commerce, chances are there was mention of the importance of customer experience to remain relevant and build loyalty amongst your customers.
What these fantastic resources and experts may have told you is that you need to create a personalized and compelling experience for each and every buyer or shopper. Sounds great, right?
The Dirty Little Secret
What they likely didn’t reveal is the dirty little secret about Customer Experience.
What these revered sources won’t tell you is that this effort will fail—that it is literally impossible—without the development of more and more (and even more!) high-quality content.
What type of content, you ask?
We would argue that product content should be at the top of your list. According to a study by Shotfarm, a vast majority of shoppers consider product descriptions to be very important (63%) or important (30%) to their decision-making process during the buying journey. Best practices outlined by content26 suggest that a product description length between 350 and 400 is justified to address the main features and benefits of a product. Some products, such as consumer electronics may need as many as 600 words to sufficiently communicate product features and benefits. To complement these product descriptions, you should provide imagery, romance messaging, and user-generated content in the form of reviews.
In addition, Google just recently doubled the length of the meta description tags that their algorithms consider to 320 characters. To get the most from your SEO efforts, you will need more—and better—content.
More and more—and more—content
This need for content—to better serve your customers, promote your brand, and satisfy SEO requirements—may be part of the reason that word counts on HTML pages has increased by more than 25% in recent years.
Not only will you need to provide great information for each of your products, but also your content will begin to proliferate. As you multiply product variations, attributes, and product relationships, you will need to create an ever-increasing amount of content. Add to that the adaptations needed for new markets, channels, and languages and you will observe an exponential explosion of content requirements.
You are probably starting to get the idea. How can you possibly track and manage all of this product content? And, is this really necessary?
Fueling the Engine of Customer Experience
As your organization discusses the resources and tools necessary to provide that great experience your customers are seeking, consider this: there is no point in investing in personalization and experience software if you’re still going to provide every customer the same experience as every other customer.
Just as your vehicle needs fuel to power its engine, your marketing organization needs to develop product content to fuel your customer experience and personalization efforts. Regardless of how many state-of-the-art tools you implement, they—and you!—can’t do the job without the fuel for the engine that is product content. By building this solid foundation of content, you can easily reuse and repurpose the information you create to build a personalized experience for every shopper.
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Content Marketing Manager, inRiver
Your customers are increasingly requiring a better experience when they buy—either offline or online. This need for a stellar experience is not limited to shoppers and consumers. In fact, your business customers may be the ones that have less time to dilly-dally with search engines and browsing through products. They have a need, they know what their need is, they may have a pretty good idea what the solution is, and they want a frictionless experience to acquire it.
So, in these cases when your primary is to satisfy a need—quickly and conveniently—your main goal should be product experience management. That is, you need to manage the experience that gets your product into the hands of the customer.
In an upcoming blog series, we are going to explore the various aspects of product experience management—what it means to inRiver and how we think it can help you sell more and develop a loyal following of customers.
You have heard us mention the need for a Content Creation Factory many times in these pages. We will address what this is, how to develop one, and what it means for your organization.
In addition, we will explore findability of your products and how this is fundamental to creating an amazing product experience for your customers.
Many customers will simply not buy online if a product does not provide an image. Similarly, providing incredible product imagery without any product context is also rather pointless. We will discuss this concept, as well as offer a webinar on the topic, to help you understand how to provide great imagery and context for your product assortment.
The product experience must be consistent across all of your channels. It protects your brand and ensures that your customer knows what to expect—and receives what they expect—regardless of device, location, or channel. We will provide some insight into how you can take control of the product experience so that your customers will instill their trust in you and your products.
Last, but not least, you should know that product information management is the cornerstone of providing a superior product experience for your customers. In the coming weeks, we will delve into why you need to explore PIM and how it is fundamental to your digital strategy.
Kathryn Zwack, Sr. Content Marketing Manager, inRiver
I love to ski. Maybe it is the feeling of freedom, the speed, or the cold. Or maybe it is the ability to mimic the feeling of flying—even getting some “air” at times. What I don’t love is when the snow is thick and wet—during the spring, typically—when my skis suddenly slow or even stop as they hit a slushy spot.
That is, I don’t like friction.
In general, friction isn’t popular. Think of all the innovations that inventors have developed to reduce friction—lubricants, sanders, pavers, ball bearings—the list goes on. Think about how the shapes of everyday items have changed over time—the ‘boxiness’ of cars in the 1970s has evolved to today’s streamlined, rounded, sporty crossover.
So, it is no surprise that when customers are in the market for an item—whether online or offline—that they also don’t want to encounter friction.
Where can friction occur?
The first place that customers encounter friction is in their initial search. They type some key words into Google or Amazon and get…nothin’, nada, nyet. The receive pages and pages of results that are not of interest.
Suppose they do receive some relevant results. The next place they can encounter friction is in the product information they are viewing. If it is incomplete, inaccurate, or basically not helpful, their quest to purchase has once again been thwarted.
Another area of friction can be in the shopping cart/purchase process itself. If shipping and return information is inaccurate or hard to find, or if it is difficult to modify the shopping cart, customers may become frustrated and abandon the site altogether.
If your objective is to provide a frictionless, streamlined purchase process for your customers, you must first ensure that you and your products can be found. Do your research so that you are correctly categorizing and describing your products the way your customers do. Don’t assume that the way you organize your customers in your warehouse is the way that your customers think about your products. Make sure you are using the key words and taxonomy from the customer’s point of view.
Next, get your product information in order. That means ensuring that every product tells a compelling story with accurate and concise descriptions, imagery, and supporting data. This requires what we call a “content creation factory,” a process—with supporting tools—that ensures that the product content you are serving up is relevant, timely, and complete.
Last, don’t make it so hard for people to buy from you! There are now so many ways to pay and so many channels where your products can appear. Strategically select the methods and channels which are valued by your customers. Then, streamline the process and make sure that shopping cart and other buying processes are clear and well-documented.
Join the innovators who have worked so hard to alleviate friction in our world. In the meantime, let it snow!
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Marketing Manager, inRiver